(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the proceedings.)
Question: Are medical malpractice plaintiffs eligible to recover prejudgment interest on their jury award when their statutory offer to settle has been rejected?
F. Plaintiff Received a More Favorable Verdict as Compared to the 998 Offer:
Whether the § 998 offerer obtained a more favorable judgment is ascertained by a simple comparison between the dollar amount of the offer and the dollar amount of the total judgment. Lakin v. Watkins Associated Industries (1993) 6 Cal.4th 644, 662, fn. 13]
Plaintiff is entitled to 10% interest on the judgment, calculated from the date of his or her first § 998 offer that was exceeded by the judgment. Such interest continues to accrue until the judgment is satisfied. Civil Code § 3291; see Steinfeld v. Foote-Goldman Proctologic Med. Group, Inc. (1996) 50 Cal.App.4th 1542, 1550-1551, 58 Cal.Rptr.2d 371, 375 [interest accrues during pendency of appeal].
Here, the net dollar of the judgment against Dr. Kenneth B. is $3,723,000, which is to be compared with the Section 998 offer of $400,000 to determine if there was a more favorable verdict. Even if the judgment is reduced to the MICRA cap of $250,000, that amount plus the economic damages of $188,800 totals $448,800, still exceeds the section 998 offer of $400,000.
Moreover, when a defendant rejects plaintiff’s §998 offer – pre and post offer costs are added to the verdict to determine if there was a more favorable verdict. In this case there are over $50,000 in costs.
G: Mandatory Application of Section 3291 Prejudgment Interest:
If the Civil Code § 3291 conditions are met, the prejudgment interest award in plaintiffs favor is mandatory. The trial court has no discretion to withhold the interest for equitable or any other reasons (as where court believes plaintiff acted unreasonably or in bad faith during settlement negotiations). Morin v. ABA Recovery Service, Inc. (1987) 195 Cal.App.3d 200, 206-207.
H: Calculation of Prejudgment Interest:
Plaintiffs made their first offer of compromise pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure, Section 998 directed to the defendant KENNETH B., MD, for $400,000 on November 24, 2003. That section 998 offer has been provided to both the Court and defense counsel.
The jury returned its special verdict on January 13, 2005, and a hearing with respect to entry of judgment is presently scheduled for February 4, 2005.
(1): Prejudgment Interest from Date of § 998 Offer on November 24, 2003, to February 4, 2005 on the Verdict of $1,029,050 is $120,384.75:
a) 10% interest from December 24, 2002 to March 4, 2004 or 427 days on the sum of $1,029,050 is:
$1,029,050 x .1 x 427/365 = $120,384.75
(2): The Daily Prejudgment Interest is $281.93.
The daily interest rate is calculated as 1/365 x $1,029,050 or $281.93/daily which should continue for each day after February 4, 2005, until actual entry of judgment.
I. Conclusion Re Prejudgment Interest:
Plaintiff requests prejudgment interest in the amount of $1,029.50 fromNovember 4, 2003, the date of the C.C.P. Section 998 offer, to February 4, 2005. Plaintiff further requests daily interest of $281.93 for each day after February 4, 2005, until the date of entry of judgment.
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.